Connecticut DJI Drone Ban, DFR, Supreme Court, Philly Drone Life

Welcome to this week's UAS News Update. This week, we have four stories to discuss: , the DFR (Drone for Act), a court case, and a follow-up on the Philly YouTuber. Let's get to it.

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Connecticut Senate Bill SB3: DJI Drone Ban

Yes, this week we are not in the studio. We are actually in , recording a new drone course. But let's talk about Connecticut first. This is in the Connecticut Senate at the moment. The bill is SB3, and this would be yet another bill that would prevent first responders from using their Chinese-made drones for Public Safety usage.

If you are in Public Safety and if you are in Connecticut, please, please, please reach out to your representative. There is a page link down in here to the Drone Advocacy Alliance website that will help you connect directly with the person closest to you. If you are also just a regular citizen living in Connecticut, you can also reach out. Please let them know that this is not a bill that is acceptable. It would prevent Public Safety responders from basically using any DJI drones that they currently have in their fleet, which is not something that we support.

Drone for First Responder (DFR) Act

Also along the same line, I want to talk about the DFR, which is the Drone for First Responder Act. This is something that U.S. Representative Stefanik from is trying to put in place. We talked about it for the last couple weeks, and the reason why I keep talking about this is because this is a really bad bill that we need to oppose as soon as it becomes actual text. At the moment, it's still not available as full text, but it has been rumored around several times, which is why we need to get ready to oppose it now.

Despite the name, the DFR Act would actually limit First Responders from using any drone that they want to use. Not only that, it also imposes an additional tax on these agencies until DJI drones are banned. DJI and other Chinese drones would be banned in six years, so they are extending this bill to have six years of wait time where we can utilize the DJI drones. But then in six years, they become too much of a threat, and they need to be banned.

I've mentioned this before – this doesn't make any sense. If this is actually a real threat from DJI and Chinese drones, why are you going to wait another six years before you put the ban in place?

So please reach out to your representative again. We're going to put a link in the description to the DA website where you can take action. This is extremely, extremely, extremely important at this stage, which is why I wanted to talk about it again, and we probably will talk about it again one more time next week.

In addition to all of this, the DFR Act would also add a tax to traditional users like you, not just to Public Safety. I'm going to read you the numbers here.

There would be a 30% tax on drones manufactured and shipped from , which will then increase annually until reaching $100 plus a 50% tax four years after the enactment of this.

If you think that this is not going to affect you because it only affects Public Safety responders and First Responders, it does not. These would obviously have a massive impact on you. We know that DJI is 70% of the market right now, so 70% of users would be receiving an additional tax because of this act.

So it is very important for you to take action. Please, please reach out to your representative, especially if you live in the area where Stefanik is, and let them know that this is not something that is acceptable.

Michigan Supreme Court Case

The next story this week is a Michigan Supreme Court case that we talked about about a year ago. What happened is that somebody at the city decided to use a drone to surveil someone on their property and determine if their backyard was actually a junkyard. This is what they were trying to prove.

The homeowner took them to court, lost, and then tried to take the case to the Supreme Court of Michigan. The Supreme Court decided that they were not going to the specific case, which is an interesting decision because this could have had a serious effect on privacy laws in a bunch of different states by setting a precedent.

I'm still not sure how I feel about it. As a drone owner, I want the ability to fly pretty much anywhere I want. There are current privacy rules in place that do not restrict someone from flying over somebody's backyard. On the other hand, I'm also a homeowner, and the last thing that I want to see is a drone hovering over my backyard and taking videos or photos, even if it's .

The fact that the Supreme Court decided not to do this opens up for possibly more rulings from Michigan if local legislators decide to take action on this and potentially try to prevent drones from flying over private property.

Please let me know what you think in the comments. I don't think it's a clear-cut case in this situation. Like I said, I want to be supportive of drone operation, but also we have to think about privacy and privacy concerns from people.

Philly YouTuber Update

The last section this week is about a Philly YouTuber. You have heard us talk about him along with other people. There was a hearing on April 24th of this year, which is not too long ago. I'm going to read you an excerpt here from the judge's report:

“Subsequent to the April 24, 2024, hearing, I became aware of a video filmed by the defendant the same day and apparently posted on YouTube just prior to the hearing. In this video, the defendant appears to be operating a drone in a manner that directly violates specific portions of my February 2024 order.

Although I did not consider this video when issuing my contempt findings, and although this video has quickly been removed from defendant's YouTube channel, I take judicial notice of its existence and again respectfully remind the defendant that his conduct involves a serious aviation safety matter.”

So it looks like there was an order from the judge, and it looks like “Philly Drone Life” decided, or Mikey or Mike, whatever you want to call him, decided that he was going to be flying and posting it online, which is getting him potentially in trouble here.

What can happen next? Apparently, the court has asked the government, who's filing against him, to make a case for the seizure and the management of his drones, including apparently a drone, from the report. This means that for civil contempt, he would be potentially losing his drones, and we're not sure what happens after this.

The FAA has also spoken about this and said, “We work hard to educate people about safely flying their drone, and we don't hesitate to take strong enforcement action when pilots deliberately flout the rules.”

So it looks like the FAA is on the case as well. We'll keep you updated if we hear more from this, but this doesn't sound too good for Philly Drone Life.

Pilot Institute Photo Contest Reminder

Lastly, I want to remind you of the photo contest that we are running right now in the Community. You have the ability to win an awesome trophy and $250. You have until May 15th to submit your photo. We have actually quite a few entries already, and voting will happen soon after that on May 20th for a few days. Then we will announce the winner after that.

So go ahead, go to the Pilot Institute Community. You have access if you're one of our students. That's it. That's all we have. We'll be back in the office next week. We'll see you on Monday for the live update and on Friday for the next news update. See you then.


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Greg Reverdiau
Greg Reverdiau
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